We have calculus and chemistry classes, but there is no formal education system to prepare for one of the biggest events and purchases of a lifetime: buying a home. There are countless resources about the process and legalities of buying a house—and you’ve read and studied them all. But buying a home also raises some emotional concerns. Before you make an offer on the house, here are 5 things you must remind yourself.
Don’t Worry. Being Nervous is Normal
Buying a home, particularly for the first time, can feel incredibly stressful. It can be confusing when you feel anxiety instead of excitement about something that is often portrayed as a positive commitment. House Hunters makes it seem so easy. All you do is go look at three houses and then choose one. Unfortunately, like almost everything else portrayed on TV, it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of anxiety, especially in our current market. Don’t worry, we understand. This is a big investment and you’re not just making a big purchase, you’re buying your future home. Feeling nervous is totally normal. One way to counter this is to try to focus on the things that you can control. Don’t get bogged down by the What-Ifs. Do your research and get the facts. Never rush into a decision out of fear or pressure, but rather take the time to make the right choice for you.
It’s Okay to Make Sure the Price is Right
It can be easy to lose sight of your finances when weighing potential house prices, simply because the numbers involved are so big that they don’t feel like real money. If there’s an opportunity to push on price and get even a small discount, it can make a big difference. Consider a house listed at $250,000 that you can negotiate down to $240,000. On one hand, you’ve only knocked off 4 percent, which hardly seems like a big deal. However, look at it from a different perspective. In addition to saving $10,000, you’ll save more than $5,000 in interest costs on a 25-year mortgage with a 4 percent interest rate. That’s a savings of more than $15,000 in the long run! So no, it’s not just 4 percent. And yes, it’s okay to make sure the price is right. Just make sure that you do this sort of back and forth in relation to the condition of the home and how long it has been on the market. For example, if a home needs a lot of repairs and has been on the market for a long period of time, chances are that the seller will be willing to negotiate the price. You can always consult with your agent if you have any questions about negotiating prices.
Get a Feel for the Neighborhood
You’ll want to feel safe in your new home. One way to find out whether you’re moving to a peace haven or a crime hotspot is to check official crime statistics, such as those available through the Department of Justice website. You can also get a home insurance quote. If the premiums are unexpectedly high, this could be a bad sign about the neighborhood. Keep in mind that in the Nevada County area, there are lots of neighborhoods. Even some of the neighborhoods have their own little areas. For example, Alta Sierra may be considered a neighborhood, but areas range from a more expensive estate side to a more rural area where people have horses and large swathes of property. Despite all the statistics and data you read, sometimes your own gut feeling is the most reliable. Don’t just rely on your initial visit to the property, which will often be during the daytime. Go back to the area a few more times: once after nightfall and once during rush hour. Also see the area on the weekend. If the home is near an airport, you’ll notice a lot more activity on the weekends than on a weekday. Get a good feel for the neighborhood. This will give you a better idea of whether you’ll feel safe in the area, and how bearable the traffic and the noise will be.
Fees Are Up for Negotiation
It’s always worth checking the fine print to see how fees associated with buying a house are divided. You may be able to use this as a bargain chip, particularly if you’re on the fence about buying a property. For example, a seller might have refuse to reduce the sale price below a certain round number, but could still be persuaded to erase some of the fees. Here are some fees that might be up for negotiation:
- Realtor fees
- Escrow fees
- Title search and insurance fees
- Transfer taxes
- A share of any housing association or condominium fees that the seller has already paid for the year
Weigh out the potential savings against the time, hassle, and potential breakdown in negotiation that could occur if you push things too far.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Ask the seller or the realtors about anything you need to know. Don’t worry about coming off as needy or annoying. Everyone knows and understands that buying a house is a huge commitment. Remember, you’ll be dealing with these people for a matter of mere weeks, but you’ll be living in your new home for many years. In the same vein, never assume anything. Make sure the sale documents detail exactly what fixtures and fittings will come with the house—from light bulbs to garden furniture. Ask the realtor for an exact breakdown of the closing costs you’ll have to pay beyond the property purchase price. And be sure you know the timetable of all the steps between making an offer and physically unlocking the front door to your new home. When in doubt, just ask. A good realtor will always be happy to keep you informed and put your mind at ease.